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Temple & Monument
Summer Palace is good for
- Highly recommended by fellow travellers.
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Why Summer Palace is special ?
The Summer Palace (Chinese Pinyin: Yí Hé Yuán), northwest of Beijing, is said to be the best preserved imperial garden in the world, and the largest of its kind still in existence in China. It is only a short drive (15 km) from central Beijing but seems like another world.
The Summer Palace was initially built in 1750 by Emperor Qianglong. The architectural style of Summer Palace is to make others believe it is inartificial. It covers an area of 70 thousand square meters and holds over 3000 houses. In 1860 and 1900 it was destroyed by invaders and in 1912 it was rebuilt by the Government of Qing Dynasty. In 1924, it began to be open to tourists.
The Summer Palace is one of the loveliest spots in Beijing. Not all the buildings are open to the public, but many are, and the others continue to enhance the park with their design and decoration, nestled into the landscape.
The arched bridges, pretty promenades, decorated corridors, and ‘breezeways’ (a hallway that allows the passage of a breeze between structures) lead visitors through ever-changing views and scenery.
What to explore at Summer Palace?
Most people find they need to spend at least half a day here, there’s so much to see and enjoy in the gardens, buildings, and waterways.
You can take a 10 minute boat-ride to see an island temple, sit and watch a traditional Chinese performance in the restored theatre (one of the three great traditional theatres in China), or explore the recreated traditional shops by the river. The story goes, that former Emperors, or their concubines, used to enjoy 'pretend-shopping', as normally everything was bought for them.
Just wandering round enjoying the different buildings and courtyards, or just taking in the views from one of the many vantage points is a pleasure.
A visit involves plenty of walking, so wear comfortable shoes and protection from the weather (sun or rain) and be prepared to be enchanted. There are many pleasant spots along the way to pause and enjoy this much-loved summer retreat, as well as places to enjoy cool drinks and snacks.
How to get to Summer Palace?
Subway Line 4: get off at Beigongmen Station (Beigongmen means the North Palace Gate); or get off at Xiyuan Station, get out of the station from Exit C2 (southwest exit) and walk west to the East Palace Gate.
Take bus 209, 330, 331, 332, 346, 394, 683, 690, 696, 718, 801, 808, or 826, get off at Yiheyuan Station and then walk west to the East Palace Gate.
Take bus 469 or 539 and get off at Yiheyuan West Palace Gate Station.
Take bus 209, 319, 320, 331, 332, 333(内), 333(外), 394, 432, 438, 498, 628, 664, 718, 801, 826, 特6, Yuntong 106, Yuntong 114, or Yuntong 118, get off at Yiheyuanlu Dongkou Station (The Eastern End of Yiheyuan Road) and then walk west to the East Palace Gate.
Take bus 303, 331, 346, 375, 384, 393, 498, 634, 683, 696, 697, 718, 801, 808, 特5 or 特10 and get off at Yiheyuan North Palace Gate Station.
Take bus 74, 374, 437 or 952 and get off at Xin Jian Gong Men (Yiheyuan New Palace Gate) Station.
- The best preserved imperial garden in the world
- Great traditional Chinese performance
- Involving plenty of walking
- Unique traditional shops
- Magnificently painted ceilings
19 Xin Jian Gong Men Lu Haidian, Beijing China
Tips for you
i visited here on Boxing Day 2014 and it was the perfect time to go. The crowds were small, most of the visitors were locals enjoying a day out and the lake was totally frozen.The palace itself is really a beautiful garden with some small buildings dotted around, a beautiful lake, peaceful walks (out of season) and full of history.With the lake frozen people were skating, cycling on overhead ice bikes and boating on ice boats - I watched fascinated for ages.I ate lunch sitting in the garden by the stone boat - the dragon boats were tied up in the ice - having walked along the covered walkway enjoying all the beautiful paintings.Make sure you read about the history - it makes the visit much more enjoyable.This has few steps so is good for all abilities.
An amazing historical building well worth seeing. You need a few hours to make the most of it. There are lots of stairs, so be prepared and take water (there are shops but inflated prices for Beijing).
Like many other reviewers, I encourage visitors to Beijing to include the Summer Palace on their tour. It is a very large complex with the Kunming Lake at its center. Visitors take small ferries across the lake to see various parts of the complex. It is surprising to learn that the lake is man-made and that Longevity Hill, where the main buildings are located, was built by the landfill from the lake. The buildings at the bottom of the Hill contain reception halls for the Dowager Empress from the mid 1800 to 1910. She used to receive dignitaries and ambassadors here. There are long series of long stairs to reach the series of temples at the top. It is a steep climb. I suggest that visitors read a little about the Dowager Empress ( Cixi) before arriving to get an understanding of the intrigues of court life. Perhaps, the most impressive element of the visit is the views from the top of the temples on Longevity Hill. One can see most of Beijing on a clear day. Caution: There is very little English spoken on site. A local tour guide may be helpful in making your visit more productive and enjoyable.